War and Peace centers broadly on Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and follows three of the best-known characters in literature: Pierre Bezukhov, the illegitimate son of a count who is fighting for his inheritance and yearning for spiritual fulfillment; Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, who leaves behind his family to fight in the war against Napoleon; and Natasha Rostov, the beautiful young daughter of a nobleman, who intrigues both men. As Napoleon’s army invades, Tolstoy vividly follows characters from diverse backgrounds—peasants and nobility, civilians and soldiers—as they struggle with the problems unique to their era, their history, and their culture. And as the novel progresses, these characters transcend their specificity, becoming some of the most moving—and human—figures in world literature.
Even as a little kid, I swore to myself that one day–I would read WAR AND PEACE. What I can say? It has an infamous reputation as the longest book ever written. The only other book that I’ve read over a 1000 pages was a version of The Count of Monte Cristo. In a way, these two books–I feel–are very closely related to HARD TIMES by Charles Dickens, in the way that they’re both super dry but get better as you go on.
Geez. This book takes me back. I used to get super into classics. LES MISERABLES, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, OLIVER TWIST, the whole nine yards. I still love quite a few classics.
I found though, that as soon as I got into YA, it was harder to read new classics. My theory for why that is is simply because of the target audience. Teenagers tend to want books that are fast-paced, to the point and right there. Not dragging on in any way. Because of that slow pace, it’s harder for me to get into classics where I don’t know what’s to come.
Regardless of these facts, I read WAR AND PEACE for the first time! Woo hoo!
First of all, Helene and Natasha. Man. Was NOT expecting that ending. Helene and Natasha are basically the complete opposites of each other. But it makes sense. The ending lets Pierre’s story have more depth. More impact, I should say.
I also had a lot of love for General Kutozov, which was surprising to me, and Platon Karataev, which was not. There was nothing that especially stuck out for the general to make me like him, but in the end, I was especially satisfied with his character and comportment. Initially, I thought that Kutozov would really be a very simple character, but upon second glance there’s something about him that makes him seem to be more than meets the eye. I loved his sharpness and his brilliance in strategy.
Then there’s Platon Karataev. More of a minor character in terms of appearance, but the impact and role he played in this story was really very big.
There was a lot that contributed to what I really liked about this book. The themes, the motifs, the characters, all of it. Especially the themes of searching for life, the revelations in death, the limits of leadership and human irrationality in war and peace; really stuck out to me. There’s a certain almost poeticness to Tolstoy’s writing that I really enjoyed and haven’t really felt before, but have seen. An interesting novel for sure. 4.5 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 1273